After years of speculation on when he would make the move, oversized welterweight Anthony Johnson has decided to forgo the grueling cut to 170 pounds for a dip in the middleweight pool. However, while his body may be better suited for 185 pounds, the increased ease in hitting the mark certainly doesn’t carry over in terms of beating the opponent he’s drawn for his divisional debut.
According to the UFC, Johnson will fight on January 14 in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 142 with legendary Brazilian Vitor Belfort waiting in the Octagon to welcome “Rumble” to the iconic South American city.
Belfort will arguably be the largest opponent Johnson has faced in his career, both in terms of name value and actual size, but is actually shorter than the 27-year old and could be in trouble if caught with one of the West Coaster’s powerful strikes. Johnson holds an overall record of 10-3 and will be looking for a third straight win at UFC 142 after picking up victories over Dan Hardy and Charlie Brenneman in his previous two in-ring appearances.
Likewise, “The Phenom” also had his hand raised in his last outing – an August drumming of Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133 – and is as much a threat to knock Johnson out cold as is the case in return (if not more of one). Among the fourteen TKOs in his career Belfort has stopped the likes of Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin with strikes.
UFC 142 is headlined by featherweight champion Jose Aldo defending his title against 11-0 contender Chad Mendes. No other bouts have been announced but if UFC 134, also held in Rio, was any indication the card will be peppered with Brazilians in action against American fighters.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC